Guest Post: Organizations that inspire | Better Together – Insurance Industry Bands Together to Help Local Community

When gang activity started to become a major issue in Orange County, Juan’s mother knew that the way to avoid her son being recruited to join was to put him in an after school program. Although Juan was initially rebellious, continued encouragement from the program director proved successful in coaxing his participation in the programs offered. By year’s end, Juan was eagerly and proactively signing up for activities and had established many great friendships. The peace of mind brought by the after school program and the nurturing environment it provided was invaluable to Juan’s mother, relieving her of stress and everyday worry of Juan’s wellbeing.

That’s the story that Jean Sweeney, Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations at Children’s Bureau, shares as one of her most memorable moments while working for the nonprofit organization.

According to Sweeney, Children’s Bureau believes that all children deserve to grow up safe, nurtured and healthy. Through innovative and cutting-edge child welfare programs, Children’s Bureau has been saving children’s lives for 110 years. In Southern California, the organization provides support and care for over 28,000 children and parents per year. To make these life-changing programs possible, Children’s Bureau relies on the support of donors such as the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF).

IICF unites the insurance industry – a very competitive bunch – to give back and help those who need it most. Although a national organization, IICF works to make an impact at the local level, supporting nonprofits that address the needs of the local community. In the West, IICF provides grants to organizations making a difference in the areas of child abuse prevention, education, disaster preparedness, and health & human services. Children’s Bureau is a prime example of one such organization.

“With IICF’s support, we’ve served thousands of families,” Sweeney notes. “Children’s Bureau is very grateful for our partnership with IICF, and we look forward to future opportunities to work together.”

IICF engages the insurance industry to raise awareness, funds, and promote volunteerism. The Western Division’s Insuring the Children 2014 golf tournament, for example, raised over $100,000 to benefit child abuse prevention programs in Orange County. Funds raised through the event supported organizations including: Children’s Bureau; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County; Child Abuse Prevention Center of Orange County; Olive Crest; and Seneca, Orange County. These organizations – and the tournament itself – support the very programs changing the lives of thousands of kids, like Juan.

The Insuring the Children Golf Tournament raised over $100,000 to support child abuse prevention programs.

 

In addition to events, the IICF also promotes industry volunteerism through its Week of Giving. The Week of Giving program is an annual eight-day call to action that encourages insurance professionals to volunteer with local community nonprofits. The Week of Giving supports regional and national initiatives, such as “Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day,” an early literacy program developed by Sesame Workshop through a three-year, $750,000 grant from the IICF. During the 2014 Week of Giving, libraries all across the country hosted thousands of children for a day of fun, interactive reading and writing programs in the name of early literacy development.

When the “Every Day” program launched in 2013, IICF and Children’s Bureau partnered to host an interactive event for local kids (and adults!). The community event brought out 100 families to experience the educational website, make personalized books, and participate in literacy-themed craft projects. To this day, Children’s Bureau’s library and family enrichment programs in Los Angeles utilize the IICF and Sesame Workshop website and materials to encourage reading.

Cookie Monster was a big hit at the IICF-Sesame Workshop Early Literacy Initiative Launch.

Cookie Monster was a big hit at the IICF-Sesame Workshop Early Literacy Initiative Launch.

Organizations like Children’s Bureau are providing children like Juan a safe and nurturing environment. IICF works to rally the insurance industry to support organizations like Children’s Bureau. Working tougher, IICF, the insurance industry, and local nonprofits are helping communities and enriching lives.

~~

Written by Melissa-Anne Duncan

Melissa-AnneDuncanHeadshot

Melissa-Anne serves as the Executive Director of the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s Western Division. As Executive Director, her responsibilities include strategic planning, board development, fundraising, and division operations. Having joined IICF in 2010, Melissa-Anne previously held the position of Vice President of Development for the Western Division and continues to manage IICF’s national communications. (Click here for more.)

Guest Post: Be A Part of Something Bigger — Together in Action

In today’s world, it is so easy to get caught up in our own agenda and what “I” need to do. When you volunteer, you are selflessly giving of your time and energy to be a part of something greater than yourself.

Volunteering and Civic Life in America issued a report showing that Americans significantly increased their commitment to volunteering and civic engagement in 2011, with the national volunteer rate reaching a five-year high as 64.3 million Americans volunteered through an organization, an increase of 1.5 million from 2010.

Giving back is very important to the future of our society, and when companies start taking an active role and encouraging employees we can accomplish great things!

One Islandia based tech company is going the extra mile and rallying their troops in each of their offices across the country to give back!

CA Technologies is a global corporation with a local commitment and celebrating its 8th annual global employee volunteer program: CA Together in Action.

The volunteer efforts are in full swing happening throughout the month of October in locations such as Islandia, NY; Framingham, MA; Tampa, FL; Atlanta, GA; New York, NY; Pittsburgh, PA; Portsmouth, NH; Plano, TX; Lisle, IL.

Every year, employees take time out of their normal business day to enrich the lives and well-being of others in their communities. By supporting a wide range of local nonprofit organizations, including Habitat for Humanity and Boys and Girls Clubs of America, employees give back through volunteer efforts. Volunteer projects include technology programs for under-served youth, environmental clean-ups, building affordable housing and assisting food banks with feeding the hungry.

CA Technologies_HFH_3Since its inception in 2005, CA Together in Action has collectively provided support to more than 1,000 volunteer projects with approximately 45,000 hours of community service. Employees are able to use up to three work days each year to volunteer with organizations of their choice.

Abby Gronberg from The Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation explains that “We appreciate CA Technologies participating in our beach cleanups and enjoy working with this group of dedicated volunteers,” adding that, “In 2012, we collected 12,477 pounds of debris from 219 cleanups. Every little bit helps, and we are so grateful for CA Technologies and the hard work their volunteers do to keep New Hampshire clean and safe for everyone.”

CA Technologies_Islandia_RMSP 1The volunteer efforts even have a international reach. “SOS Villaggi dei Bambini has partnered with CA Technologies since 2008,” said Franco Muzio, National Director, SOS Villaggi dei Bambini Italia. “CA Together in Action is such a positive program that brings supportive and enthusiastic CA Technologies employees together to help support the important work we do for the children and families we work with.”

Check out this video here to see how employees are giving back to the communities where they live and work!

~~

Written by Whitney Delano

Whitney Delano

Click here to connect with Whitney on LinkedIn.

Guest Post: What’s Wrong with Philanthropy (And How We Can Fix It)

There’s a great TED talk (here) that got me thinking. In it, Dan Pallotta – who essentially created the multi-day charitable event industry – argues that the way we judge charities is wrong. There’s an obsession with keeping overhead low and an understanding that salaries for those in charge should be kept to a minimum. After all, they’re working for charity. But this isn’t the best way to succeed. When a business wants to grow, society understands that it’s necessary to reinvest its earnings into creating more earnings. It’s worth hiring the best leaders (even with high pay) because they bring more value than they cost. And it shouldn’t be any different in the non-profit sector. The best way to raise more money is to reinvest a big portion of what they’ve earned so far. Pallotta’s charity events, despite comparatively high overhead, have grown exponentially faster than others and have, as a result, raised a much higher overall dollar figure. And that’s what matters, right?

Okay, I’m convinced.

But then I think about if one of the charities that I give money to told me that their CEO takes a big chunk of the proceeds and a majority of the rest goes towards marketing to get more donations and it just feels… wrong. I don’t want my money going towards overhead.

So: either I’m being irrational or there’s a piece of the equation that I’m missing.

Pallotta establishes – and I agree – that the best way for a charity to grow and raise more money in the long term is to reinvest their profits. Yet I still don’t feel comfortable donating to charities that operate in this way. Is that a contradiction? I’m not sure it is. Not necessarily. If my goal in giving to charity is to maximize the charity’s overall proceeds then yes, it’s a contradiction. But that isn’t my goal.

Let’s step back for a second: If I give $100 to charity and they reinvest all of that money to convince my neighbor to donate $101, is that a good thing? There’s been a net drain on society of $201, yet the charity only has $101 to show for it. That’s not good. I don’t feel like that was money well spent.

Compare that to a company that does the same thing. If I spend $100 on a new gadget and they reinvest all of that money to convince my neighbor to buy the same gadget for $101, is that a good thing? I’d argue that it is. My neighbor got something that he values at over $101 (otherwise he wouldn’t have bought it) and the company made additional revenue. Sure, we’re talking about small numbers so it seems insignificant, but it’s clear that everyone benefitted.

So what’s the difference???

It’s the fundamental problem with philanthropy today: When you give to charity, you are trading your money for the feeling that you’re helping.

That’s it.

And that leads to the societal beliefs that overhead and salaries should be low, and all the donations should go directly to helping the cause. Because, if they don’t, then the person donating didn’t get their end of the bargain. Their money didn’t help the cause.

When a charity spends $1 million on marketing – even if it has a positive ROI and generates $2 million in donations – that’s $1 million of contributions from people who gave money to help a cause and didn’t. Or, phrased another way, $3 million was given to help a cause and created only $2 million in real change.

In economics, we talk about growing the pie. And Pallotta’s speech assumes he can follow that logic: it’s worth reinvesting because it grows the pie. But donating to charity isn’t growing the pie, it’s just shifting wealth around. It’s a one-way transaction. So a reinvestment into getting more people to donate isn’t growing the pie the way reinvesting in a business would, it’s just a net loss for the sake of shifting the wealth around in a more favorable way.

So let’s recap quickly: Pallotta’s logic is flawed because a bigger overall dollar figure isn’t all that matters when people are giving out of sympathy. The best example is imagining a charity that reinvests so much into good marketing that they raise $1 trillion dollars. But only $1 billion of that money actually goes to help. They’ve created a huge bottom line, but because the cost of that bottom line was so massive (and the people giving didn’t get anything of value in return) it isn’t worth it. Donating to charity is a transaction where you are giving money in exchange for being able to help. And when the majority of those giving money don’t get to see their dollars put towards good, it doesn’t matter how useful that money was in creating more donations. It’s an overall societal loss.

So how can we fix this?

We need to change the way we see philanthropy. Businesses operate on the principle that they can provide more value than their costs of producing that value. In other words, they create transactions where both parties selfishly benefit and there’s profit leftover.

Why can’t charities do the same?

That’s the idea behind a charity I’m working with called GiveGetWin. Except – and here’s the secret sauce – there’s more ways to deliver value than just in dollars.

Essentially, what we do is ask someone doing something interesting to provide us with some value free of charge for us to sell. Often, that’s a handful of 1-on-1 consultations. Sometimes, it’s a product that they usually sell.

In exchange, we market the hell out of the deal and, in doing so, raise awareness of what they’re doing and drive a bunch of traffic to their page. Plus, it looks good on them and raises their credibility.

Great – they’re benefiting personally and doing good for charity.

Eventually, people who are interested in what they are selling find our deal and are amazed by the incredible value. The prices are shockingly low and, in many cases, the offers are things they wouldn’t be able to buy elsewhere.

Great – they’re benefiting personally and doing good for charity.

At the end of the day, all the profits generated by the deal go towards helping change the world. Today, we’re developing educational infrastructure in Mongolia. Tomorrow it could be something different. Because those giving are doing so for their own sake (with the added benefit of helping charity), we aren’t tied to one cause. We don’t rely on sympathy to raise money. Those who give are getting something for it. And this gives us the freedom to spend the money however it’s best suited to generate the most value.

Coincidentally, despite all this, we have an awesome team of volunteers and are able to give 100% of all our earnings to charity. But the point is that, the way things are set up, nobody would have that negative gut feeling if we reinvested our proceeds in growing. The transactions don’t consist of trading money for the feeling that you’ve created change. The change is an awesome byproduct of mutually beneficial deals.

And I haven’t even told you the best part. My job? Well, I do a lot of things. But a main portion of that is finding people who are doing cool stuff that I admire and reaching out to them. I explain how we operate, spend some time chatting with them about how we could structure a deal, and work with them to put something amazing together. It’s an awesome opportunity to connect with really incredible people and I consider myself lucky to be able to do it.

Great – I’m benefiting personally and doing good for charity.

~~

Written by Zach Obront

zachobront

Zach Obront manages recruitment and development and GiveGetWin, a new kind of charity for the 21st century. You can read more of his writing at www.zachobront.com and find out more about GiveGetWin at www.GiveGetWin.com.

 

Organizations that inspire: The Alexia Foundation

I’ve written about events that inspire before, but I’d like to create a new theme for “organizations that inspire”.  Posts that fall under this theme will profile organizations out there that are passionate, unique, creative, and inspire us.  The organization I’m about to tell you about does exactly that.

The following information comes straight from the source: The Alexia Foundation.  I think this organization is incredible, and I want to leave it to them to describe what they do, how they do it, and why they need support.  So, without further ado: an organization that inspires

~~~

The Alexia Foundation Supports Photographers as Agents for Change

The most important issues of our time – the most important events in history – many of us can recall the photographs in our heads and the stories that they brought to life. Pictures can capture our hearts, make us laugh, or provide a glimpse into a sobering reality of human actions and consequences through a language we can all understand. Photojournalists bring us these pictures, the indelible images that give voice to social injustice or shine a light on issues and focus attention on things that might otherwise go unnoticed, serving as catalysts for change.

The role of today’s photojournalist has never been more critical. Through grants, scholarships, and special projects, The Alexia Foundation is committed to supporting the work of photojournalists and their powerful ability to communicate through images and move each of us forward to a better understanding of the social injustice that exists around us.

Inspired by their dear daughter and sister Alexia Tsairis who was innocently killed at the age of 20 during the 1988 terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the Tsairis family have worked to build Alexia’s legacy as a photographer through The Alexia Foundation. From its beginning as a memorial fund at Alexia’s alma mater Syracuse University, The Alexia Foundation has grown to become one of the most well-known and respected awards in the field of photojournalism, earning recognition and awards from World Press Photo, the Emmy News and Documentary Awards, the duPont-Columbia University Award, and a Pulitzer Prize; just to name just a few. The Alexia Foundation has given $700,000 to 110 photography students and 18 professional photojournalists producing 128 funded projects over the last 24 years. Photojournalists supported by The Alexia Foundation have had their work featured in prestigious media outlets such as National Geographic, The New York Times, TIME, Newsweek, LA Times, The New York Times, and many more.

Now, The Alexia Foundation is seeking to increase the impact of photojournalists and the stories they tell through targeted grant opportunities and partnerships with non-profit organizations that will enable the images created by Alexia photojournalists to bring awareness to problems, give voice to those who have gone unheard, and move people to take action – whether it is the impact of climate change on Bangladesh or the lives of those in The West Bank. The Alexia Foundation is actively seeing financial support from new sources – foundations, corporations, and individuals who have a commitment to human rights and a desire to drive change.

If you would like to learn more about how you can make a contribution to support the mission of The Alexia Foundation, or how the work of the foundation can raise awareness of your organization, please visit their website at http://www.alexiafoundation.org.

 

Written by Maeve Strathy

livestrong
Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past 6 years.  Click here to learn more about Maeve.

Connect with Maeve via:
Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Email

Guest Post: The Story of NationWares

You all know by now that I got my start in fundraising in the Annual Giving Call Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University, and I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Phonathon programs.  One of the reasons why I loved that experience so much was meeting all the people I did; my fellow supervisors, full-time professional fundraisers working in Annual Giving and adjacent departments, and – most of all – the student callers.  Amie Mariana Sider is one of those former callers who I feel truly proud to know.  Though I haven’t seen her in a while, I’ve been able to keep up-to-date on her life through social media, and it occurred to me one day that she’d be a fantastic guest blogger for What Gives.  When I reached out to her she generously accepted my invitation, and I am so excited and proud to share Amie’s guest post below.  Be inspired, excited, and spurred to action by Amie’s words.  Enjoy!!!

~~~

Disclaimer: Brace yourselves readers, this is gonna be a long one. I’ve always been a rambler, but I think for this post it’s totally necessary for you to understand my context, background, and reason for doing what I do.  Hopefully it can encourage and inspire you to join in, or simply rekindle your love of giving and doing good.

My name is Amie Mariana Sider and for some crazy reason I’m one of those 25 year old kids who somehow ended up landing their dream job at an absurdly young age with relatively no official experience. What turned out to be a huge qualifier was my unofficial expertise that came to me by growing up among a family of do-gooders, world changers, humanitarians, and international development gurus. At the age of 10 I had already traveled to more suffering and impoverished nations than fancy beach resorts. I forgot to mention that I was also born in an extremely remote and impoverished area of Guatemala and was blessed enough to escape the cycle of poverty by being adopted into an incredibly loving Canadian home.

Since the delicate age of 5, I have vocalized my determination and passion to truly change the world and end the cycle of poverty for those who deserve a chance to escape it just like I did. From then on I volunteered, participated in countless fundraisers, donated savings from my piggy bank, and searched for the best way that I could to bring about change for the world’s most marginalized and vulnerable people. 15 years later during my student career at Wilfrid Laurier University, NationWares was born.

As a Sociology and Global Studies major, I was determined to come up with some revolutionary idea to eradicate poverty. I’ve always understood charity and charity/development work, but was always drawn to the overwhelming success of the business industry. Let’s be honest here, I was a sociology major because math and numbers terrified me and I vowed to my grade 10 math teacher who promised not to fail me if I agreed to never set foot in another math course again in my entire life… which brings me to my third year global studies course.

The Global Studies department created a program called the Global Studies Experience; it was through this mandatory program that I was personally assigned a placement with a development agency. The agency was directed to give me a mandate to fulfill as a lowly summer intern who had yet to be jaded and discouraged by charity, the international development system, and of course organizational bureaucracy. Their mandate for my summer work involved none other than numbers, data collection, and of course fundraising… basically everything related to numbers and financial accountability that terrified me. To put the cherry on top of it all, they wanted me to target and grow financial resources from “young people”. I thought for sure that I was way over my head!

That summer I traveled to Ethiopia to visit some incredible programs in the area of life skills, vocational training, and income generation. I was so encouraged to see men and women become self-sufficient through these programs and instantly wanted to integrate this model into my summer project. At the time I knew that child sponsorship programs were becoming a model of the past for the younger giving generation, donors of all ages were also becoming more and more skeptical, and in tough economic times the average person looks out for their own interests. Most young people may find it difficult to part with their cash for donation purposes, especially when they feel they won’t receive anything tangible from their gift. I’ve always had a passion for fashion, beauty, and accessories, which led me to combine life skills, income generation, and the creation and distribution of ethical fashion and accessories. You can take a look at one of my first projects in the video below. It features a couple who have been able to change their economic situation and support their family by making scarves to be sold through NationWares in North America as they also produce local traditional clothing to be sold in their own community.

NationWares – Scarf Production from bottledmedia on Vimeo.

Let’s skip ahead 5 years. To say that I learned a ton during the first 4 years of operating NationWares would be an understatement. I tested out the charity model to find that it simply wasn’t enough. It needed to be set firm on a foundation of business and since I have a love/hate relationship with business I needed NationWares not to focus on profit and numbers in a self-interested way, but take the whole triple bottom line concept of people, planet, profit, and push it further. That’s why today NationWares is a social enterprise (a business that exists to serve a social cause) that is breaking the cycle of poverty for multiply marginalized people around the world who have been impacted not only by poverty, but also disability, HIV/AIDS, and other factors that lead to marginalization and vulnerability.

I built NationWares to use fashion as a vehicle to drive sustainable employment for over 2,000 current beneficiaries in 10 different countries as they create ethical products that positively impact their society, the economy, and the environment as we expand their market and share their products with North Americans. Our programs go beyond fashion and fair trade as we provide vocational training, creative education, and mentorship resources through the NationWares International Foundation to ensure sustainability and overall success. By purchasing any of our unique products, our customers transform the lives of those deemed the most marginalized and help us create recognized business people, local heroes, and community leaders.

That’s my personal and NationWares journey as a young entrepreneur in a nutshell. To those who find themselves wanting their dream job in the field of giving and doing good I can’t stress the importance of volunteerism and risk taking. The most rewarding jobs don’t always have the most rewarding salaries (or may not even come with a salary at all). Be ready to innovate, get messy, and challenge the system. To all the givers out there, I encourage each of you to give in whatever capacity you can. Any form of giving is great! If you’re a supporter of charity, continue to support charity. If charity doesn’t sit well with you, don’t use that as an excuse not to give; find something you believe in. Businesses usually get a bad reputation but a lot of them are becoming more concerned with the planet and its people under the umbrella of social responsibility. NationWares profits bring sustainable change and help keep the cycle of employment moving. Find companies like us that use their products and profits to do good things and invest in the greater good for all people and societies around the world.

Time to get giving!

 

Written by Amie Mariana Sider
You can connect with Amie via:
Twitter
 & you can stay updated on NationWares via:
Web | Twitter | Facebook